Press Release: Massachusetts Public Health Association Applauds Inclusion of Food Access Funding in Governor’s Capital Plan

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 11, 2017
Contact: Maddie Ribble, Massachusetts Public Health Association, 617-697-2107

Massachusetts Public Health Association Applauds Inclusion of Food Access Funding in Governor’s Capital Plan

Boston, MA – The Massachusetts Public Health Association applauds Governor Baker for inclusion of $1 million in funding for the Massachusetts Food Trust Program in the FY18 Capital Spending Plan released this afternoon:

Maddie Ribble, Policy Director at the Massachusetts Public Health Association said: “Finding a place to buy healthy, affordable food nearby is a problem faced by far too many Massachusetts residents – negatively impacting quality of life, health, and job opportunities in urban and rural communities across the Commonwealth. Governor Baker’s action today to invest $1 million in capital funds to the Food Trust Program is a crucial down payment to solving this problem and creating a healthier and more equitable Massachusetts. We thank the Governor, Secretary Lepore, and Secretary Ash for their leadership in tackling this issue head on, and we look forward to partnering with the Administration to fulfill the promise of this important new program.”

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BACKGROUND

  • A 2017 analysis revealed that lack of available grocery stores impacts 2.8 million residents in Massachusetts – or nearly 40% of the state’s population.
    • This includes more than 700,000 children and 523,000 seniors
    • This lack of grocery access has the greatest effect in small rural towns and Massachusetts Gateway Cities
    • The 10 cities with the most significant Grocery Gap are Chelsea, Springfield, Taunton, Everett, Revere, Lawrence, Lowell, Lynn, Brockton, Chicopee
  • In 2014, the Massachusetts Legislature established the Massachusetts Food Trust Program as part of the Environmental Bond Bill, and authorized funding to implement the program in the 2016 Economic Development Bill.
  • Modeled on a proven national strategy, the Massachusetts Food Trust will use public seed funds to spur significant private investment, drive economic growth, and create strong local job opportunities.
  • The Massachusetts Food Trust would provide loans, grants, and technical assistance to support new and expanded healthy food retailers and local food enterprises in low and moderate income communities.
  • Understanding that there is a diverse set of needs in Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Food Trust would provide flexible financing to meet community needs.  Projects eligible for funding could include grocery stores, corner stores, farmers’ markets, mobile markets, community kitchens, food co-ops, food truck commissaries, indoor and outdoor greenhouses, and food distribution hubs.
  • Public financing has leveraged significant private investment. Other states, including NY and PA, have leveraged between $9-15 dollars in private and federal funds for every $1 of state funding.
  • Research shows that access to grocery stores is linked to lower rates of obesity, diabetes, and other diet-related diseases. Many of these same communities are struggling economically and lack job opportunities for local residents.

 

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